I read a book: Incel, by Matt Duchossoy

You might be wondering why I would pick up a horror novel called Incel written from the perspective of an incel doing extreme incel things. I wondered that myself as I started reading and that familiar icky feeling filled my belly. If you are not an incel and you’ve ever browsed any of the incel subreddits, you know that feeling. Truth be told, the author was the driving force behind that decision. Matt Duchossoy is the pen name that Matthew A. Clarke uses for his horror novels. I like his writing style. But I also like books that put you in the minds of horrible people. I like books that make me uncomfortable. And boy does this one deliver.

If you’re unfamiliar with the term incel, let me introduce you to the main character of this book, Wayne. Wayne subscribes to the involuntary celibate movement, an online community of mostly men who are unable to attract women for one reason or another. Wayne describes it the way any incel would, laying blame squarely on women’s shoulders. He refers to attractive men as Chads and women as Staceys, femoids, foids, and other derogatory terms. Women don’t want to fuck him because they’re shallow sluts and he won’t have a shot at them until they’re old and used up. He addresses the existence of femcels, the female incel, and answers the most obvious question by stating that neither incel nor femcel believes they should lower their standards to couple with one another. The foids are shallow for not doing so though. It’s a disturbing mindset, but one that most are familiar with even if the term incel is new. The author did a ton of research into the movement while writing this book and it shows.

Anyway, while Wayne is deep in this mindset, he still has hope and tries to live a normal life. He has revenge fantasies, but no real intent on carrying them out. But this would not be much of a horror novel if he didn’t cross that line, now would it. His world is turned upside down when a cute waitress shows interest in him. He has no idea how to react or proceed, but he manages to successfully date this girl for several months. During this time, his friends have turned dark side and dragged him down with them. To be fair, they didn’t have to push much. He was ready, because despite his successful relationship, he never truly believed that his lady wanted him. He was always waiting for the other shoe to drop. He just assumed there was no happiness to be had for him. That defeatist incel attitude was ultimately his undoing, leading Wayne and his friends down a dark path filled with torture, sexual assault, and murder.

For a moment, I had the tiniest shred of sympathy for Wayne. The ending absolutely killed that. Like most incels, Wayne doesn’t have trouble with the ladies because he’s unattractive. He has trouble because he’s human garbage. He doesn’t see women as people. Good things happen to him and he still can’t let go of that incel ideology and try to be happy. But there was that brief moment where I thought he might redeem himself.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ I hated this book. I also loved it. This is a cautionary tale that reminds the reader just how easy it is to give in to your dark thoughts, get caught up in the moment, and take things too far. It’s a reminder that some people have their heads so far up their asses that they can’t recognize the good when it happens. Thank you for making me feel things, Matt.

Big thanks to Matt Duchossoy for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review. You can pre-order Incel on Amazon and begin reading it on Valentine’s Day (February 14, 2023) or read it as part of your Kindle Unlimited subscription.

I read a book: Like a Tramp Yelling at Trains, by Peter Caffrey

This is my first Peter Caffrey book. According to the man himself, he is “not a poet, which is why this collection is free. A few of you might find something which amuses, and others won’t. If you’re in the latter group, remember, it’s fucking free.” This collection is full of humor, darkness, and heart. Caffrey says he is not a poet but he totally is.

Some highlights from a handful of the poems:
One Small Step – well that took an interesting turn. Probably shouldn’t have laughed, but I did.
Honeycomb – that last stanza…oof. Relatable.
Untitled – a bit rhymey, but a satisfying little vignette
The Light Side – that giggle at the end, love it
Shared Guilt – wherever you are, I am also
Despite All This – eat your hearts out, Hallmark
All Hallows – ok this one cracked me up
Happy Not Happy – utopia
Dead Exciting – titillating
The Poet – perfect way to close this collection

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ I picked up Like a Tramp Yelling at Trains, by Peter Caffrey for free on Godless. To my delight, this book of poetry was not only free but included an audiobook narrated by the author and it is so great. I kind of want him to narrate my life now. You should read this. Hell, Caffrey will read it to you.

I read a book: They Are All Monsters, by J. Boote

Hot off the presses from the man who forever burned things like demon possessed sex with zombies and the subsequent pregnancies in your brain is the extreme horror novel, They Are All Monsters. This is the story of a pair of detectives leading the hunt for a serial killer who is targeting children who stay out after dark. This serial killer is especially brutal, mutilating his victims and leaving them where they drop.

Before I get any further into this review, if you have any triggers (namely violence against children, murder, gore, cannibalism), this book is not for you. Boote did his research while writing this book and all of the horrors within have been in the headlines at one time or another. Thankfully this is fiction and no one was hurt in the making of this story.

This book starts out like your average run of the mill detective drama with Clive Watson braving a dark and dreary night lurking around Belton, a small village currently being terrorized by a ruthless serial killer and an equally ruthless copycat, in hopes that he might finally crack the case. And he very nearly does, but the killer runs off and Clive is left to deal with the not yet dead young victim. He knows the kid doesn’t have much time left, so he loads him in his car and begins to drive. It seems like he might take the kid to the hospital, but he takes him to his home instead. Uh oh. At this point, my gears are turning and I’m wondering if we are learning the identity of the killer so early in the book. One thing is certain, if you’re thinking you’ve got it figured out already, you are wrong. This book is full of twists and turns. We get the story from the perspectives of Clive, his fellow detective Jeff, and the killer. Everyone has secrets and they are all monsters. Great character development and the story is engaging and keeps you guessing. And the descriptive language will make you squirm.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ It is not often that a book (extreme horror or otherwise) makes me wtf. At around 30%, I paused and made a note stating that I would provide content warnings for this one and I rarely do that. This book kept me up way too late chasing that ending and left me hoping for a sequel.

Big thanks to Justin Boote for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Imagine my surprise when I found my name among the other ARC readers in the acknowledgments at the end of the book. I am humbled. Nearly every author who has seen one of my reviews of their books has been friendly and gracious, but this is the first time I’ve seen my name in a book.

You can pre-order They Are All Monsters on Amazon and begin reading it on January 25, 2023. It’ll also be available as part of your Kindle Unlimited subscription. If you love extreme horror and getting in the minds of serial killers, read this book.

I read a book: Strangled Epitaphs: A Poetry Collection, by Axl Barnes

I read a lot of horror and I read a lot of poetry. So when the odd combination crosses my path, I gobble that shit right up. Axl Barnes is an author I discovered via Instagram. His bio describes him as a horror writer, philosopher, avid reader, and metalhead, attributes I sometimes ascribe to myself (horror review writer anyway). He reads authors I love and writes honest reviews, and he writes dark poetry with horror elements. So there’s lots of common ground. I snagged two of his books, Strangled Epitaphs and Stillborn Gallery when they went on sale for 99c. This is about the first one I’ve read, Strangled Epitaphs: A Poetry Collection.

Let’s talk about a few of my favorite poems. The first to really make me stop and think about what I’d just read was The Barren Clock. The first few lines describe vaginas with no bodies growing around a clock giving birth like meat grinders. The imagery is dark yet vivid and takes the reader on a grotesque journey. Is it a world ending epidemic? Who knows, but I’m all in. Human Spill in Aisle 5…well, you’ll never look at a grocery store the same way. Descriptions are graphic yet poetic. Too Late for Suicide struck a chord with me, particularly the last stanza. Here I am, committed to gray skies and empty parking lots…too tired to create something out of nothing. Junked struck that same chord. Her Portrait in Darkness is bleak yet romantic. Andrea broke my heart. Blow and Go got a laugh out of me. It’s not funny, but my dark sense of humor disagreed. Dumpster Love has some serious bizarro vibes, and you know how I love bizarro. My Pyramid of Books does not reach the levels of macabre as the rest of this book, but this book lover loved it all the same. Bury me inside my pyramid of books

The artwork that punctuates this collection is as hauntingly beautiful as the poetry. Check out more of Thomas Stetson’s work on ARTUS Collective.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ for me. Rating poetry is always so difficult because it doesn’t follow the same rules as novels. I rate based on how I feel when I finish reading and whether I’m still thinking about it when I’ve put the book down. I finished reading this collection days ago and I keep coming back to it. The imagery in these poems will make you uncomfortable. It’s supposed to do that.

Big thanks to Axl Barnes for following me on Instagram and introducing me to his work. You can buy Strangled Epitaphs: A Poetry Collection, by Axl Barnes on Amazon in digital or paperback format. At the time of this writing, the kindle version is on sale for 99c. Go buy it.

I read a book: Peculiar Monstrosities, A Planet Bizarro Publication

Planet Bizarro was founded toward the end of 2021? Whaaaat? I guess my brain is still in that weird pandemic time warp because it feels like they’ve been around a lot longer. I’ve been reading bizarro a lot longer anyway.

Peculiar Monstrosities is a bizarro horror anthology comprised of 14 wild stories by 14 different authors, some well established and some new, who absolutely shine in the genre. Each story is unique and everything you want from a good bizarro story.

Before I get into the actual content, I want to talk about the narrator. Despite being a fairly prolific audiobook narrator, Talia Carver is a new voice to me. Her voice changes to suit the characters she reads in a way that brings the stories to life without being distracting. That is a big deal for me. I don’t like full cast audiobooks because I find them to be way too distracting, and the ones where they just read can be monotonous. This style is a happy medium and Carver pulls it off skillfully. Her narration is a pleasure to listen to.

Let’s talk about some of my favorites. This collection starts off strong with a story called The Colour Leeches, by Tim O’Neal. Saving the world from shadow monsters who are hungry for pigment? Yes please. I found the solution to the colour leech problem to be pretty clever and the ending satisfying. For the Children, by Joshua Chaplinsky describes a cartoon character brought to life and the consequences of doing so. The Thing She Carried, by Shelly Lyons caught my eye because of the title’s similarity to an old favorite, The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien. Of course that is where the similarities end. This story was honestly hilarious. Imagine being on a camping trip with your lover, stopping to fuck when the mood hits, and suddenly he dies and is face is stuck in your lady bits. And now you have to figure out how to get back to civilization and deal with weird shit along the way. Jukebox Heaven, by Zoltan Komor also had me rolling. A man goes to a match making service to find a wife and is paired up with a jukebox. Please insert coin. Man/jukebox sex. And then it gets weird.

I particularly liked the pet-centric stories. The Cat Factory, by Tim Anderson describes a world where cats are hand crafted by artisans until someone gets the idea to start mass producing them and things go awry. Kevin J. Kennedy’s All I Wanted Was a Little Friend is another pet story, but instead of cats, the pet is a blob of some sort. Pet breeding and ownership are strictly controlled and the reason for that becomes evident almost immediately after the main character acquires a pet. And then it gets weird.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ for me. Most of these stories can be described as a series of somewhat weird events happening, and then it gets weird. It’s what I like about bizarro and why I think bizarro fans should read Peculiar Monstrosities.

You can buy Peculiar Monstrosities on Amazon or read it as part of your Kindle Unlimited subscription. I bought the kindle version of this book when it was published in March of 2022. Planet Bizarro offered free review copies of the audiobook last week, effectively moving Peculiar Monstrosities to the top of my TBR. Thank you for the review copy, Matt Clarke/Planet Bizarro.

I read a book: Grunge (Backyard Goblin Gods #1), by Roxy Collins

When I started this book and first third was dominated by the biker gang stuff, I nearly put it down and moved on. I’m not interested in the usual romance tropes with all human characters. I chose this book because I’ve never read a goblin romance before, and the man on the cover is green. I like green. Bring on the goblin lore. If the goblins are humans, meh. Fortunately Grungu was introduced before I got bored of reading about bikers harassing Cassie and her siblings. Don’t get me wrong. Cassie is great character. She’s a badass who does what needs to be done to take care of the ones she loves. Her life and her story leading up to her meeting Grungu are what makes her the badass she is. But I’m here for the goblin aspect and this book delivers.

Before I go on, let me list a few possible content warnings. Skip to the next paragraph if you don’t want them or are worried about spoilers. Consider yourself spoiler warned. So. Content warnings include: attempted rape, gang violence, guns, biting, oral sex on a sleeping person. If any of these things are not for you, pass on this one. I will also say that the attempted rapist is punished. Continuing on.

Cassie Wild finds herself caring for her siblings after her mom ditches town, leaving her to deal with her debt to the Iron Goblins. The head of the MC decides she’s not paying off the debt fast enough and puts her to work at the club’s strip club. She begrudgingly goes to work (not that she has a choice) and things immediately get worse for her. And then she accidentally sends an offering to the gobelins who live in a magical place underground and things start to look up.

Grungu aka Grunge is the leader of the gobelin horde living in a magical underground world called Underhill. Every 20 or so years, the crust opens and the gobelins have the opportunity to seek a human mate. They need humans to procreate and the leader of the horde must find his mate before any of his clan can attempt to find theirs. We learn that there is a history between humans and gobelins that is passed down the generations. Unfortunately it seems the humans are no longer keeping their end of the deal because Cassie doesn’t even know gobelins exist. Not only do they exist, but they’re the opposite of what the humans have always been told. They are fierce warriors, but they’re also cinnamon rolls who would do anything for their clan and especially for their mates.

This book is full of twists and turns. Sometimes it feels a little all over the place, but it all comes together nicely. And spice is close to the levels I like in my monster romance. I’m looking forward to seeing where Collins takes this series. If the path to the surface is only open for about a month, that doesn’t leave a lot of time for many gobelins to find their mates. It will either be a short series or there will be time skips. I’m okay with either.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ for me. There is room for improvement. I would love more details about the deal between humans and gobelins. What happened with the Iron Goblins? Will the twins be safe without Cassie? Will the gobelins be more welcoming to Cassie after all that happened? Overall I really enjoyed this one and immediately picked up the next book in the series.

Big thanks to Roxy Collins and BookSirens for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review. You can buy Grunge (Backyard Goblin Gods #1), by Roxy Collins on Amazon for a couple bucks or read it as part of your Kindle Unlimited subscription.

I read a book: Songs About My Father’s Crotch, by Dustin Reade

I won this from a Planet Bizarro Press giveaway celebrating 500 likes on Facebook. How they’re just reaching that milestone, I’ll never know. I love bizarro and I’ve loved every Planet Bizarro Press book I’ve read. Bizarro is such a niche genre, but I’m sure there are more than 500 people who are into it.

As much as I love winning giveaways, I also love supporting authors by doing things like writing reviews and buying their books. Songs About My Father’s Crotch was recently released on Audible and I snatched it up immediately. I think it’s important to include a quick note about the narration when reviewing a book. So here’s a quick note about Garry Messick’s performance. I found it quite enjoyable. Messick treats narrating like he’s a one man show, taking on different accents and cadences for each character.

This collection of short stories is great. Each story is stranger than the last and the progression is fast. It starts with a story about a guy who discovers that he loves wrestling with furniture and moves on to one about a couple who absentmindedly eat each other while watching movies. The story that stood out to me was Night Butterfly, a tale of a bromance between a guy and a moth. There’s some guy/butterfly sex, so if that squicks you out, maybe skip this story. The Unbearding tells the story of one guy’s beard causing a chain reaction resulting in a weird beard obsession in the whole town. Living houses with assholes and buttcheeks. Cloud people. Roald Dahl? There is so much packed into this small collection of short stories.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ for me. This review doesn’t adequately describe the levels of weird in this collection of stories. I loved it. Super fun. Bizarro is one of those genres that some people just don’t get. That is apparent when you read Goodreads reviews of books like this and find a bunch of people asking what the whole thing had been about. In the words of the fictional Roald Dahl in Clouds and Feathers, “Some stories are just fun to read, y’know?” That’s how I feel about bizarro and why I always rate them so highly. They’re just fun to read. If you’re a fan of bizarro and you haven’t read Reade’s work, you should get on that. Don’t miss it. Or do. Whatever.

Big thanks to Planet Bizarro Press for sending me my copy of this book. You can get Songs About My Father’s Crotch on Amazon for a couple bucks. Also available on Audible.

To the author: Sorry for googling you after 2am. I do most of my reading and writing in the middle of the night. I hope I didn’t keep you up too late.

I read a book: Goddamn Electric Nights, by William Pauley III

I’ve written reviews for a few of William Pauley III’s books in the last year. I like his brand of weird. I feel right at home on Eighth Tower Block. I have owned the kindle version of Goddamn Electric Nights for a while now. I picked up the audiobook (and one other) on NetGalley a few weeks ago when my kindle had died an untimely death, having seen its existence there as a sign to revisit Eighth Block Tower. I have a new kindle now, thanks to the thoughtful generosity of my bff, so I followed along on that as I listened to the audiobook.

Once again, Connor Brannigan’s performance is great. I really enjoy his voice and delivery of the material. The only exception is the last story. It was like listening to Robert Stack narrating Unsolved Mysteries, a quality that was not bad in the observation parts of the zombie story but not quite fitting Spin Doctors Mixtape. I still love Brannigan’s narration though.

It’s difficult to choose a favorite in this collection of strange tales. Killing Teddy was a neat concept with a great ending. Does anyone ever really win? Parts of $5 Electric Suzie cracked me up. Imagine falling in love with a VCR with a taste for human flesh. Now imagine the levels of love and obsession that would drive a man to murder for 50 years to keep his love sated. I guarantee you’ll never look at a VCR’s, uh, lips the same way again.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ for me. I love Pauley’s writing. His stories are vividly descriptive and take you to worlds you never imagined. This collection gives a little more insight to how the mutants of Eighth Block Tower came to be and how they continue to exist and I want more.

Big thanks to William Pauley III, Doom Fiction, and NetGalley for providing an audio ARC in exchange for an honest review. You can read Goddamn Electric Nights as part of your Kindle Unlimited subscription. Or just buy the book. The eBook is only a couple bucks and the print version would look great on your shelf. Do yourself a favor and grab the audio companion while you’re at it.

New year, new reading goals

New year, new reading goals. Because I like checking off boxes, I’ve collected various reading challenge graphics that tackle my various goals. You can check them all out on my corresponding Instagram post.

⭐️ 100 books
⭐️ More indie authors
⭐️ Catch up on my ARCs
⭐️ More reviews

Reading challenges I’d like to complete include:

⭐️ Goodreads – 100 books
⭐️ Gagents of Chaos and Gagents of Chaos Extra Credit – The Gage Greenwood author group on FB’s reading challenge that is basically a list of horror authors
⭐️ B.A.N.G. Book Club 52 Week Challenge – smut prompts
⭐️ PopSugar – I like this one because it encourages me to branch out and read things I wouldn’t normally read
⭐️ Books of Horror – This is the yearly horror themed challenge hosted by the Books of Horror FB group
⭐️ Diversify Your Reading Challenge – Monthly themes meant to make you read different genres
⭐️ Book Blanket Challenge – This is a play on the temperature blankets that are popular in crochet/knitting groups

I know it seems like a lot, but there’s a lot of crossover and I’m going to be reading a lot of this stuff anyway so why not check off some boxes. Last year I nearly completed the PopSugar challenge without any effort. Every quarter or so, I checked my log and filled in boxes with books I’d read. This year I expect to do the same, though I will curate my reading list a little more than usual to make sure I read the authors on the Gagents of Chaos challenge. This will help with my goal of reading more indie authors as well. And I’ll be using the Book Lovers Cafe’s monthly book club to complete the Diversify Your Reading challenge. That’ll save me the trouble of coming up with a theme every month and give me the satisfaction of checking off boxes. Win/win.

I don’t know if I’ll make the blanket, but…maybe? I’d have to come up with my own color scheme for sure because I don’t need or want a red and orange blanket. Maybe I should finish the blanket I have in progress first 🙃

Monthly roundup – December 2022

Last monthly roundup of the year. I read fewer books this month than usual due to the untimely demise of my kindle and some trouble focusing in general, but I still got to lots of great books. Mantis was my favorite, followed closely by both issues of The Obituaries and The Astronaut Dream Book. Not a bad one in the bunch though.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️:
Mantis
The Obituaries #2
The Obituaries #3
The Astronaut Dream Book

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️:
The rest

No rating:
One that I won’t name.

So let’s talk about some of these books. I read a lot of weird stuff. Some of it is weird by definition. Anything labeled bizarro is going to be super weird. I knew I was going to love the favorites listed above because I have loved everything I’ve read by those authors so far. But then there are books like the Pet Project series. The first book was recommended to me by Amazon or Goodreads (I don’t remember) because I read a lot of alien porn. This series was not alien porn, but it is solid sci-fi and I really enjoyed it. The series got better as it progressed. There’s a pretty significant time jump between books, but it feels like the natural progression of events.

I also read a lot of zombie books. I know a lot of them are the same story told by different people, but that’s part of why I like them so much. Still, when I read a book that takes a different approach to zombies, I’m all in. Diana Rowland’s White Trash Zombie series is one of those. The series follows a young woman who was turned by a cop who found her dying of an overdose. The zombies in this world are not mindless and go on to live normal lives. Well, as normal as can be expected for someone who needs to consume brains to keep from turning into flesh eating monsters. Not a bad book in this six volume series. I loved it, and even though it took me a year to get around to reading the last volume, I’ll miss Angel Crawford.

Monster romance is a relatively new genre for me. I’ve never really cared for traditional romance or smut and mostly just didn’t read it because the few that I’d tried were disappointing at best and boring at worst. About a year and a half ago, I saw Ice Planet Barbarians on my Goodreads feed. The person who was reading the series usually reads less fluffy stuff, but I’ve loved pretty much everything I’ve read based on her ratings so I gave IPB a go. And promptly fell down that rabbit hole. It turns out I do enjoy romance and smut, I’m just not interested in humans. Go figure. This month’s monster porn, Grunge and I’m in Love with Mothman, were excellent. More mythical creatures, please.

All in all, a great month of reads to wrap up a great year.